School of Music


Doctor of Worship Studies (DWS)


Jerry L. Newman


Multigenerational Worship, Intergenerational Worship, Liturgical Dance, Sacred Dance, Praise Dance, Gospel Mime


Christianity | Liturgy and Worship | Music | Religion


Historically, the African American Church has utilized movement to express personal faith. As attitudes towards movement changed, many churches limited or banned the use of dance in worship. Currently, many African American Baptist Churches have developed liturgical dance teams, providing a ministry for a variety of generations. These lyrical movements are danced to live or recorded music, usually contemporary Gospel music. Popularity of the liturgical dance teams has expanded to include mime, also known as Gospel mime. Many churches that worship in a multigenerational model provide relevant and transformational opportunities for all ages. Incorporating liturgical dance and mime as worship elements within worship has encouraged youth and young adults to be active participants in the worship experience. The Historic First Baptist Church (FBC) is an example of a traditional African American Baptist Church that has integrated liturgical dance and mime to the order of worship. Multiple generations are represented in worship; each generation possessing diverse characteristics and tendencies. In this qualitative historical study, FBC members representing the generations were surveyed to discover perceptions regarding the integration of liturgical dance and mime in worship. In addition, interviews of liturgical dance and mime ministry members and leaders discovered the preparation for ministry offerings, specifically through music choice, attire, choreography and facial expression. This research found that liturgical dance and gospel mime ministry offerings engage multigenerational worshipers.